Avi Picks the Worst PC Selections in Those “Best Comics of 2021” Lists


 

The dreadful propagandist Graeme McMillan wrote up his choices in Variety for what he thinks – or wants the readers to think – are the best comics of 2021. For example, two works of Tom King, Rorschach and Strange Adventures:

 

These two projects by former “Batman” and “Mister Miracle” writer Tom King tell different stories, but ones that feel very much in conversation with each other; in “Strange Adventures,” the hero of an intergalactic war’s attempts to sell his version of events slowly fall apart as his trauma becomes more obvious, while Rorschach — set in the world of “Watchmen” — is about an attempted murder seeming committed by someone who was, themselves, a product of traumatic events. Taken separately, they’re impressive works featuring some stunning artwork; taken together, they’re some of the most essential pieces of superhero storytelling released in years.

 

Not a single comment in this brief statement about how horribly misused the 2nd Mr. Terrific Michael Holt is in the book that’s allegedly about Adam Strange. And all this in a column citing 2 other graphic novels said to be focused on racism, Cyclopedia Exotica and Good Asian. Gee, what’s the guy’s point? Not to mention the artwork in Strange Adventures is nothing to write home about. McMillan also cites Far Sector, a Green Lantern-connected story:

 

Acclaimed sci-fi novelist Jemesin (“The City We Became”) makes her comic book writing debut with this dizzying take on the Green Lantern mythos, in which a human attempts to bring something resembling law and order to a distant part of the universe — hence, “far sector” — populated by A.I.s that feast on human internet memes and aliens that have worked to rid themselves of all emotion. There’s a lot more going on underneath the surface as should be expected in any murder mystery, but it’s Jemesin’s worldbuilding and Campbell’s amazing artwork that stand out in this book.

 

 

What honestly disgusts me is the emphasis on murder mysteries here, along with the ultra-leftism it builds on. There’s been so much emphasis on such violence lately, that alone sours the milk of the mystery genre. Besides, the GL franchise was ruined long ago, in over 3 decades. Another example listed is an Eternals miniseries by Kieron Gillen:

 

Who really expected that, in the same year that the obscure 1970s comic became the next big Marvel Studios movie, a comic book revival of “Eternals” would mine new ground and redefine the entire concept, adding no small amount of tragedy to the core story to make it a truly Marvel idea. What price is too high to protect the world — and what happens when you’re not aware of who’s been forced to pay that price all along?

 

I think tragedy is another theme that’s been overused to the point of absurdity, and yet another of darkness that’s become insufferable in an age where grimness takes up too much of the market. And then, in an example of moral equivalence, McMillan also cites a graphic novel called Tunnels by Rutu Modan:

 

What initially sounds like the set-up for a “Raiders of the Lost Ark”-style romp — a race against time to complete an archeological dig to uncover a religious artifact of great significance — is, in fact, the background for what might be Modan’s most political book yet, as both Israelis and Palestinians work in disputed territory in the Middle East to try and discover what might be a true conduit to God. Biting, bracing, and bold in both its satire and ambition, “Tunnels” is a book that works on multiple levels, and is successful on every single one.

It won’t shock me if no acknowledgement is made that the concept of an Arab/Islamic country called “palestine” is merely a political invention of the past several decades to undermine Israel, having originally been a name coined by the Romans, nor how Golda Meir tried to make clear in her time that there was no such thing as a palestinian Arab/Islamic people in the past. Why, if it’s that political, it’s just one more reason why it’d be better not to buy and read it. Too much politics of this sort is ruining comicdom.

The Nerdist site also listed what they tout as the best of the year, and wouldn’t you know it, this includes the Nubia book, which serves as one of now many DC propaganda pipelines:

 

Look, sometimes one hero just shines brighter than the rest. This year that star was Nubia. After Smith and McKinney reintroduced her, Nubia’s now got her own solo title and it’s a smash. Vita Ayala, Stephanie Williams, and Alitha Martinez have created an accessible, exciting, and vital reconsideration of Nubia and Themyscira that’s the must read of 2021.

All because of the LGBT propaganda it builds on. As does the Poison Ivy special they’ve cited here:

 

Putting a gothic twist on one of our favorite anti-heroines, Kody Keplinger and Sara Kipin deliver something truly special with Poison Ivy: Thorns. This queer romance leans into the haunting horror of gothic literature, introducing a new beginning for Pamela. This is the sort of story you can lose yourself in, whether you’ve never read a comic or you’re a lifelong fan.

 

I think that’s just what happened with the reviewers: they’ve gotten lost, in their own far-left politics. That this is horror-themed is no avail either. Even more frightening would have to be their choice of ABO Comix’s A Queer Prisoner’s Anthology:

 

We are huge fans of the work that A.B.O. Comix does here at Nerdist. The abolitionist publisher supports queer people in prison by publishing their comics and giving them the profits. The fourth volume of the ongoing series is another certified banger. Beautiful, moving, vital, and cool as all heck, this is 374 pages of real radical underground comics.

 

A movement that’s dedicated to abolishing prisons, and no matter what the offenses of the inmates, they allow them to profiteer?!? Ugh, this has got to be one of the most chilling examples of politicized activism. And it explains perfectly why this is an entertainment site best avoided. Who would’ve thought before political activism could go that far?

 

 

Polygon’s also got a list, telling more about Far Sector:

 

While everybody on 2020 Twitter was interrogating the relationship between superheroes and copaganda, Far Sector — a book conceived and started in 2019 and finally collected in 2021 — was confronting the idea head on. Across 12 issues, N.K. Jemisin (yes, that N.K. Jemisin) spun a murder mystery at the edge of space, grafted just so slightly to the edge of DC Comics continuity. Newly minted Green Lantern Sojourner “Jo” Mullein, who just happens to look a lot like Janelle Monae, began to unravel a generational cycle of state violence against an exploited and disadvantaged underclass.

 

Oh yes, all we need is more anti-police propaganda, attacking law enforcement for all the wrong reasons. And then, wouldn’t you know it, they made sure to cite Al Ewing’s Immortal Hulk:

 

In All of the Marvels, which would be one of the best comics of 2021 if it were not a prose book, author Douglas Wolk points out that at its start, monsters were as core to the Marvel Comics universe as crimefighting or romance. Since 2018, Al Ewing and numerous artists have been reminding us that they still are.

Beginning as a ghost story, concluding as a primal scream begging to know why a just god would allow suffering, the series seemed to reinvent itself every six issues or so. It resurrected repeatedly, as its namesake, in a froth of snapping bones and stretching skin, to snake its crushing hands onto the neck of a new monster, eventually settling, as mentioned, on God Himself.

Four years ago, it was the series that finally showed the world Ewing’s potential. Completed and collected this year, Immortal Hulk is already a classic of the Marvel Comics canon — in the literary sense, not the continuity one. It is simply among the greatest Marvel stories ever told.

 

Let me get this straight. In addition to the far-left politics, they take an especially twisted atheist take, to the point of being anti-God? This is plain stupefying as it’s insulting to the intellect. They also strongly hint they have no problem with trashing continuity of the past, as it’s been for 2 decades already. And of course, they gush till the bitter end about how this is one of the most classic stories ever conceived, no doubt, far more so than anything Lee ever wrote in his time.

 

 

IGN’s list also boasts some laughable items, like this Daredevil story:

 

Daredevil has consistently ranked as one of Marvel’s best monthly comics since writer Chip Zdarsky and artist Marco Checchetto took over the relaunched series in 2019, and that certainly didn’t change in 2021. The series has only grown more fascinating thanks to the shocking dual twist of Matt Murdock turning himself into police custody and Elektra taking up the mantle in his place. No Marvel series has a stronger pedigree, but this run has no problem standing alongside the absolute greats.

 

I guess this is DD’s take on forced gender-swapping. They already did an early form of race-swapping a decade ago when Black Panther took over Matt’s role. And then, they cite a James Tynion book:

 

James Tynion IV may have written some of DC’s most iconic superheroes, but it’s the horror genre where his talents shine brightest. The Nice House on the Lake is yet another reminder of that fact. Reuniting Tynion with Detective Comics artist Alvaro Martinez Bueno, this series follows a group of people all linked by their friendship with the wealthy, eccentric Walter. When Walter offers them a lavish vacation at his lakeside manor, how could any of them refuse? Naturally, that’s where things go terribly, terribly wrong.

 

Mainly with the overemphasis on this genre. Honestly, this is such disgust. And look what else is cited, a Nightwing book written by guess who:

 

The past few years have been very rough on Dick Grayson, which makes DC’s revamped approach to Nightwing a very welcome one indeed. Leave it to the Injustice: Gods Among Us team of writer Tom Taylor and artist Bruno Redondo to immediately revitalize Nightwing and his corner of the DCU. More than a little reminiscent of Matt Fraction and David Aja’s legendary Hawkeye run, the series delivers all the fun superhero antics, soul-searching and vibrant visuals we could ask for in a Nightwing story.

 

With Taylor at the helm? Sorry, but after his political activism at the expense of Superman, I wouldn’t touch his books with a 50 foot pole. Besides, if memory serves, hasn’t Nightwing also been sidelined? Something that’s in discussion further below.

 

 

There’s also a list from Adventures in Poor Taste, and one of the examples they cite is Spider-Man issues written by at least one very unwelcome scribe:

 

Just in time for Spidey’s 60th anniversary in 2022, The Amazing Spider-Man has been given an all-new direction from an all-new creative team (to include story/writing from Kelly Thompson and Saladin Ahmed and art by Jorge Fornes). If you, like me, have been burnt out by ASM over the past few years, this has been a refreshing change of pace. Starting in issue #75, the “Beyond” storyline sees Ben Reilly’s return as a corporate-backed wall-crawler while Peter Parker is out of commission. Each issue is a self-contained story, too. Of course, there are hooks and cliffhangers to get you to the next issue, but I find myself satisfied after each 20-page installment. While “Beyond” may be a modern Spider-Man story, it feels like going back to reading some of the classics. If the Spider-Fan in your life is hyped up by the PlayStation games or Spider-Man: No Way Home, this is the perfect reintroduction to the series.

 

I wonder why we’re supposed to care about the writings of somebody who made statements hostile to Jews that are as hurtful to Stan Lee as they are to many more of his fellow brethren? And why is this particular story cited, rather than one reversing much of the worst story elements in Spidey from the past 20 years? Oh, and look who else is cited in a take on Dark Knights of Steel and Ages:

 

There’s no denying that writer Tom Taylor is a brilliant talent, but even he had me doubting his one-two punch of Dark Knights of Steel (at DC) and Dark Ages (from Marvel). The former was a medieval retelling of the DCU, with Superman as a prince and Batman as his loyal knight (oh, and so much palace intrigue). The latter, meanwhile, imagined a Marvel universe where electricity had ceased to exist and how that inevitably changes everything for heroes and villains alike.

Were these narrative arcs a little hokey? Yes, they’re stories predicated on some rather iffy foundations. But Taylor delivered in terms of both projects: Dark Knights played up the humanity with a greatness that transcended any Medieval Times vibes, and Dark Ages was able to use this new world to explore something fresh and exciting about Marvel’s inner workings. It’s one thing to say “brilliant writers mike brilliant art,” but Taylor was able to do this on two fronts — not only because he’s gifted, but both stories coming together, at different publishers, worked well together in the sense that they found enough “commonality” in their approach, narrative, and characterizations to support and empower the other. This is a genuine feat that could have been less than what it actually proved to be: a master class from a true comics genius.

 

 

Sometimes, I can’t help but feel these fawning comments about such activist scribes are deliberate from start to finish. They even fawn over one of Marvel’s overabundant events, Inferno:

 

This category was the easiest pick for me. Inferno excels on the #1 front that’s essential but that so many other events nonetheless struggle to fulfill: it’s legitimately exciting to read. I can’t go into the specifics of all the “Oh s**t” moments without entering spoiler territory, but I can say that they use the best kinds of twists: additive reveals, perfectly rooted in the characters’ motivations and pivotal plot concerns and yet still unforeseen until the moment of their occurrence. It’s like sleight of hand, expertly formulated and planned while keeping you on the edge of your seat as an audience member.

Some of the drama is long awaited payoff for years worth of stories, while fresh seeds of potential are being simultaneously being sewn. This is not a story imposed upon the X-Men for marketing sake, but one which the entire Krakoa Era has been building up to and will build further toward the future from.

 

If they have no issues with activist writers, I see even less reason to believe this. Besides, aren’t crossovers long a problem that should’ve been retired a long time ago? Also cited is DC’s Future State:

 

It has been an eventful year in comics, especially with Marvel having big events like Darkhold, Heroes Reborn, and Death of Doctor Strange. But the event that topped them all has to be DC’s own Future State. It’s one of the bolder choices in comics in some time, as it dropped readers into a universe that was brand new but nonetheless familiar. Spinning out of the multiversal destruction of Dark Nights: Death Metal, the event allowed creators to remix heroes and defy our expectations in short but sweet two-to-three-issue story arcs. With a looser main arc, there was an easier overall buy in, making it better for readers to pick and choose what they wanted to read rather than be forced to read a main title. Taking place over eight weeks, the event changed the face of DC Comics for a length of time that also made it feel more bold and purposeful. Hell, it was an event so encompassing AIPT even ran an awards article celebrating its achievement!

 

A crossover/event that served as one of the ways for them to introduce almost all the characters who’re going to serve as replacements for their classic cast? No sale here either, and I’m not buying that claim it’s easier to get into this because it supposedly has a looser main arc. Mainly because the writing is dismal. How fascinating they think Clea taking Stephen Strange’s role in a way similar to Jane Foster taking Thor’s is a brilliant direction. It just shows how little value they ever put on Lee’s Master of Mystic Arts too. They also cited DC’s Young Adult book starring Nubia:

 

So many excellent OGNs were released this year, but I think one that deserves more attention is Nubia: Real One. Published under DC’s young adult imprint, L. L. McKinney reimagines the amazon as a 17-year-old girl struggling with being both a Black girl and someone who has to deal with her superpowers in a modern-day setting. Robyn Smith’s incredibly unique and expressive art tells Nubia’s story with a refreshing joy but also tension as she grapples with heartachingly real racism and misogyny. It’s a book so honest and rich I was surprised a major publisher greenlighted it, but I’m very glad they did.

 

 

Considering what kind of a political activist McKinney is and how she’s written such books, that’s why it’s better to avoid this too. Don’t be fooled by AIPT’s narrative. They even cite an Image book titled Karmen:

 

Despite its bleak subject matter, Karmen is a book packed with joy and celebration of life. Writer/artist Guillem March presents a sort of sunny, Mediterranean version of Death of the Endless in Karmen, who looks to illustrate the weight of living to someone who has thrown life away. The concept and sentiment might not feel terribly groundbreaking, but March’s beautiful world, the character’s wonderfully expressive faces and bodies, and the general European lack of American-Puritanical body-shame break ample ground. It’s a book that celebrates the human form without sexualizing it, all in the effort to make life feel wonderful to live.

 

With the suggestive cover this book has, that’s a little hard to believe, but in any event, why is that such a big deal whether human form is sexualized or not? Those who make too much of a fuss over such topics make clear something’s wrong. The list also includes their idea of “best” writers:

 

James Tynion IV has become a frequently-cited name in these lists over the last several years, and when it’s right, it’s just right. Frankly, the dual powerhouse series The Nice House on the Lake and The Department of Truth would be enough to cement Tynion’s status as the top writer of the year even before taking into account all his other strong work. I tend to save the best for last, so those two series have been at the bottom of my floppy piles month after month, waiting to blow me away and remind me of the sheer potential of comics as a medium. I’ll also shout out his work on Wynd, one of the best all-ages series of the year.

 

 

A book that’s about LGBT ideology isn’t something suitable for children. Evidently, this site has no common sense in that regard. Also listed:

 

Kelly Thompson’s Captain Marvel might just be my favorite take on the character thus far — and I’ve read a lot of Captain Marvel. She just seems to get Carol’s character and has taken her in such fun directions. The future plot with Ove was so fun, and I appreciate how she isn’t afraid to do unexpected things. She doesn’t play it safe, and she really explores characters and gives them a full arc. She’s great at cliffhangers and always leaves the reader wanting more. Similarly, her work on Jessica Jones and Sabrina the Teenage Witch are also hugely worth reading.

 

Oh, good grief, this too is such a groaner. I guess all the parts where Carol Danvers was made to look horrifyingly masculine are entirely acceptable, huh? Do those unexpected, unsafe things include turning Carol evil? They even have their own take on Nightwing:

 

Nightwing transformed into Ric Grayson after taking a bullet to the head in Tom King’s Batman run, resulting in both memory and personality loss. It was an interesting experiment, but sadly it took Dick Grayson out of the equation. Tom Taylor and Bruno Redondo’s Nightwing #78, then, was mind-blowing and understandable why it became an instant sellout: they brought the hero back and made him hopeful again. That injection of positivity helps to attract people to want to read comics; yes, it is great to see the hero struggle, but we don’t want to wallow in despair. Here we get dynamic heroism both in the writing and in the beautifully designed panels by Redondo . The banter between characters is charming and authentic, the new villain Heartless is scary, and Grayson is worthwhile outside his slick Nightwing costume. The current direction of the book feels like it has a creative team (editors, colorists, and everyone involved) that genuinely loves Grayson, and it shows in their monthly offerings.

 

Again, with writers like these, this is all a waste of time. And then:

 

It’s one of the smartest books on stands. It’s also one of the most visually beautiful and among the most emotionally mature. The Department of Truth (from James Tynion IV, Martin Simmonds, and Elsa Charretier) manages quite a feat: it takes a wildly fantastical premise and explores it to deliver perhaps the best political commentary of any American comic this year. Creative, heartbreaking, and wholly original, it occupies a niche I didn’t know I needed until I read it.

 

Keep going, please. This deliberate gushing really bores me. It’s more like somebody saying they can’t be comfy without politics.

 

 

One last book they list:

 

Though the run has ended now, writer Al Ewing took the Guardians of the Galaxy and did incredible things with these space misfits. He — alongside artist Juann Cabal — delved into their characters with such expertise that I found myself loving characters I was apathetic on beforehand. His plots always honor the history of the series while adding new and exciting things to keep the reader on their toes. Hopefully Ewing gets another shot at writing this team in the future.

 

I’m sure he did some very incredible things, like political activism. So, why should we believe he honors the history of GotG, if he didn’t honor the Hulk’s? Just another monumental embarrassment, and it’s a terrible shame GotG had to fall victim to this just like the other stuff.

 

Man, these “best lists” sure get worse every consecutive year they’re written up. Why do these farcical writers even persist in associating with the medium?

 

Originally published here.


Avi Green

Avi Green was born in Pennsylvania in 1974, and moved to Israel in 1983. He enjoyed reading comics when he was young, the first being Fantastic Four. He maintains a strong belief in the public's right to knowledge and accuracy of facts. He considers himself a conservative-style version of Clark Kent. Follow him on his blog at Four Color Media Monitor or on Twitter at @avigreen1

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